Designer furniture and homewares retailer, Curious Grace talks about its omnichannel offering, and the importance of a complementary online/offline brand strategy.
As a finalist in the 2018 Australian Retail Association’s Eftpos Australian Retail Awards, Curious Grace’s customer-oriented business model has been thrown into the spotlight. With one goal at the forefront of everything the brand does, the company’s Managing Director, Wayne Curnuck says that Curious Grace is “proud to bring joy into customers’ everyday lives”.
“The aim of Curious Grace is to inspire the creation of beautiful spaces and to help transform [our customers’] creative visions into a reality,” Curnuck says.
To ensure a smooth customer journey, the multichannel furniture and homewares business has spent a lot of time perfecting its online offering, ensuring it blends seamlessly with the vibe of its bricks-and-mortar showrooms.
“Our e-commerce business model is constantly being refined and optimised for the Australian market. However, one key part of our online model is branding and creating an online experience that portrays the in-store experience as seamlessly as possible,” he says.
As such, Curnuck says that the website has two main functions; an online store and a digital catalogue. Because of this, brand consistency across both platforms is a must, much like it is with traditional advertising formats.
“We use our website as an online catalogue of our products. The in-store experience demonstrates what’s on the website and vice-versa.”
Successful execution of this, according to Curnuck, results in his team being equipped to continue a customer’s online journey in a personalised, in-store experience.
“When clients visit in-store, we can work together to make their vision a reality… When clients visit [our stores] they should feel the same sense of honesty, and see the same aesthetic of the website,” he says.
Using Social Media as a Branding Tool
Social media has proven to be a powerful marketing tool for retailers, especially within the furniture and homewares market. With the rise of home renovation and design shows like The Block and House Rules, Australians have become more invested in achieving their home design goals, and social media is often the first port of call for most consumers. This has made visual, social media sites like Instagram and Facebook valuable tools for businesses like Curious Grace.
Social media also helps retailers establish a brand position.
“Social media plays a big part in brand awareness and it should, for any retailer, be weighed against its value for the business,” Curnuck says.
“You can spend hours playing around on every social media platform in the marketplace, but knowing what your clients use makes more sense, especially when you’re utilising valuable resources to make it work.”
The Good, The Bad, and The Future
Since Curious Grace’s inception in 2012, the business has had its ups and downs, all of which Curnuck believes has shaped the company into what it is today.
In particular, changing the e-commerce platform the company utilises has been a promising, yet challenging prospect, especially as the furniture and homewares brand continues to grow.
“Making the jump from an e-commerce platform, such as Shopify or Magento to our own customised platform, while not a major problem at the moment, will likely become one as we continue to grow,” he says.
“Deciding who would be the most suitable vendor to take us through and into this ‘unchartered’ territory will definitely be the biggest challenge I see going forward.”
Despite the hurdles Curnuck predicts the company will have to overcome as it continues to grow, he has big plans in place for the future.
“Ideally, Curious Grace will be the market-leader [in the furniture and homewares industry] and able to demonstrate on a daily basis everything that consumers want from a retailer. And, while the interiors and furniture industry is one focused on design, which is quite a subjective concept in itself, there are many aspects around this that we can use to evolve our business too.”
Drawing on the journey Curious Grace has been through over the last six years, Curnuck says pride and integrity are two of the most important things for any business.
“Sell with pride and integrity. You will not be willing to promote something you’re not proud of, which immediately restricts the growth of any business,” he says.
“Maintaining your integrity ensures you don’t succumb to the allure of a ‘quick buck’. That’s the first step to cutting your pride and then your promotion.”